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Tofu Adobo

A person assembling a taco with a plate of tofu adobo, a bowl of green sauce, and a bowl of rice with peas on the table.
Tofu adobo may not be classic Mexican fare but it does have classic Mexican flare thanks to an authentic made-from-scratch sauce. Full of peppers, cumin, garlic, cinnamon, and paprika, it's flavorful, smoky, and good for you.
Shannon Martinez | Mo Wyse

Prep 1 hr
Cook 3 hrs
Total 4 hrs
Entrees
Tex Mex
4 servings
315 kcal

Ingredients 

For the adobo sauce

  • 2 medium (16 oz) red bell peppers
  • 2 medium (2 oz) jalapeños
  • 1 garlic head cloves separated
  • 1 medium (7 oz) red onion quartered
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 dried chipotle peppers roughly chopped
  • 2 dried guajillo peppers roughly chopped
  • 2 canned chipotles in adobo
  • Small handful fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1/3 cup sherry vinegar
  • 3 cups store-bought or homemade chicken stock
  • Salt to taste

For the chargrilled adobo tofu

  • 16 ounces extra-firm tofu* patted dry with paper towels and pressed to remove excess water
  • Oil such as vegetable oil to coat the grill pan

Directions 

Make the adobo sauce

  • Grab a grill pan and brush it with neutral oil. Put it on the stove on medium-high heat. After the grill pan is hot, add the red peppers, jalapeños, garlic, and onion and cook, turning occasionally, until blackened, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil and dried chipotle and guajillo chiles. Cook until slightly darkened, about 5 minutes.
  • Squeeze the garlic from their skins. Roughly chop the blackened vegetables. To the saucepan, add the grilled vegetables and garlic, as well as the chipotles in adobo, oregano, spices, sherry vinegar, and chicken stock. Cover and gently simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat. Let the mixture cool for at least 10 minutes before pouring it into a blender and processing until smooth. (We know it’s tempting to reach for your immersion blender, but don’t. It won’t create as smooth a purée as your countertop blender.) Taste and add more seasoning and salt if needed. You should have about 5 cups adobo sauce. Although this recipe makes more adobo sauce than you’ll need for the tofu, it lasts for about 2 weeks in the fridge.

Make the chargrilled tofu adobo

  • Slice the tofu into short strips about 1/2-inch thick.
  • In a bowl or resealable plastic bag, combine the tofu and just enough adobo sauce to coat all the surfaces of the tofu. (Save the remaining adobo sauce for other uses—of which there are so, so many. If you’re lacking ideas, look at the note above the recipe for inspiration.)
  • Use a paper towel to remove any remaining roasted vegetable bits from the grill pan. Again, brush the grill pan with neutral oil and put it on the stove on medium-high heat. When hot, add the marinated tofu, and cook, basting with leftover adobo sauce, until dark char marks develop on all sides, about 10 minutes. You may find that the tofu crumbles a bit, but the flavor remains spectacular and actually the crumbles work particularly well for tacos, as pictured here. The tofu adobo is also adept at being served in any number of ways, including atop rice or tossed in a southwestern salad or wrapped in a burrito or…well, you tell us. 

Notes

*Do I have to press extra-firm tofu?

Firm and extra-firm tofu is still moist but has been pressed enough that it will hold its shape fairly well, especially if you're going to use it in tacos, where a crumbly texture is preferred. In a recipe where you want the tofu to keep its shape in fingers or slices, you might consider pressing out even more moisture. Pressing is essential and will only improve the texture of firm or extra-firm tofu if it's going to be fried or grilled.
Place your tofu in between layers of paper towel, rest a cutting board or plate on top, and then weigh it down with a large can of tomatoes, beans, whatever you can get your hands on. Change out the paper towels once  they get too wet. After 30 minutes or so, your tofu should have released enough liquid that you can now confidently carry on slicing, dicing, and cubing.